Short Skirts
Nothing Happens in a Vacuum

September 9, 1999
Page 3


(1) In 1956 Shirley Polykoff wrote the "Does she . . ." ads for Clairol, following them with other immortal coypylines like, "Is it true that blondes have more fun?" and "If I have only one life to live, let me live it as a blonde." (Natalia Ilyin, Blonde Like Me, Simon and Schuster, 2000, page 164)
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(2) The term "flapper" itself provides a clue to what was happening: in the 1890s, it referred to a girl still too young to put her hair up, (i.e. her hair flapped about when she walked) that is, she was pre-adolescent. Hence, the aggressively youthful clothing of flaming youth who not only dressed like young girls, but who refused to put their hair up and become nominally adult, preferring rather to cut it off and look as little like grown women as ever they could.

The "Hairies" of Glasgow were (in the late 1960s, when I was there) gangs of adolescent girls who wore their hair long and loose. Partridge (8th Edition) Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English defines hairy (n) (2) "The hairy", as in the following quot'n, hence, sing, a hairy; 'She was "one of the hairy" -- a hatless slum girl conscious of her station in life; Glasgow slum girls collectively: lower class Glasgow: late C. 19-20." In Glasgow, as in Rome, the hat is the badge of feminine quality (MacArthur & Long." [Return to place]

(3) This information is gleaned from Panatis Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things, Harper & Row, 1987, pages 215-216. s [Return to place]

Though the safety razor was sufficiently current to appear in a joke appearing in the 1911 Ladies Home Journal:

A Negro fellow went to a hardware shop and asked to be shown some razors. After critically examining those submitted to him, the would-be purchaser was asked why he did not try a safety, to which he replied: Ah ain' lookin fo dat kind. Ah wants dis fo' social purposes. (The Ladies Home Journal, October 1911, page 2)

(4) The Babylonians used depilatories, and Ovid in "Art of Love", advises, "Should I warn you to keep the rank goat hair out of your armpits? Warn you to keep your legs free of coarse bristling hair?" The representation of women in ancient sculpture as having no body hair may simply be an accurate portrayal of the fashion of the time. See also the writings of Aristophanes, Martial, Suetonius and Juvenal. [Return to place]

(5) In slave-holding societies, especially where fabric was expensive, slaves were either poorly clothed or not clad at all. The ancient phrase "as naked as a slave" describes their wretched lot.
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(6) A 1915 advertisement for "Onyx" silk hosiery, sold by Lord and Taylor, shows a young woman in bathing costume showing her legs to the knee. She is wearing black silk stockings and ballet-like slippers. (Advertising: Reflections of a Century, Bryan Holme, Viking Press, New York, 1982, page 57) [Return to place]

A 1918 ad for Luxite Hosiery indicates a young woman who is a passenger in an automobile struggling to keep her dress from blowing up. Her hose is black, but sheer. (Advertising: Reflections of a Century, Bryan Holme, Viking Press, New York, 1982, page 69)

A 1921 ad for Holeproof Hosiery shows a woman dressed in her slip and hose. The hose is sheer, but black. Advertising: Reflections of a Century, Bryan Holme, Viking Press, New York, 1982, page 81)

By 1926 womens hose have become sheer and flesh-colored.

(7) Peter Pan has traditionally been played by women, beginning with Maude Adams in 1904. Marilyn Miller revived the role in 1924, and four years later Eva LeGallienne began what would become a repertory signature portrayal. The longest-running American production starred Jean Arthur and Boris Karloff. Mary Martin became eternally identified with the role because of television. Mia Farrow and Danny Kaye starred in a musical version aired in 1977, two years before Sandy Duncan took the show back to Broadway in 1979. (Mary Martin Internet site)
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(8) For illustration, see page 53, The Poster in History, Max Gallo, American Heritage Publishing, 1974. [Return to place]


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Short Skirts
Nothing Happens in a Vacuum

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